So, that’s 10 years! Things have changed quite a bit in that time – I wonder what everything will be like in another ten (I’ll be greyer haired, that’s for sure, assuming I haven’t lost it all due to Alastair and Edward!)
One thing that’ll be different very soon is the new version of Windows, which is out at the end of this month.
I’ve talked a bit about Windows 10 before, and before long I’ll be going over how to do the free upgrade process if you have Windows 7 or 8. (Though my usual advice is to wait a month or two to give them a chance to sort out any bugs they discover.)
But first I wanted to explain something that’s different about Windows 10, compared to earlier versions.
In the past, every few years Microsoft have brought out a new version of Windows. I never used Windows 1, but I do remember Windows 2, 3 and 3.1 Then they switched to naming them after the year and brought out Windows 95 and 98 along with some slightly different versions called ME (Millennium Edition), 2000 and NT (New Technology).
Then they realised that calling them after a year was embarrassing if they got delayed and came out the year after they’d intended, so they switched to bringing out XP (eXPert), Vista and then went back to numbers with Windows 7 and 8.
In fact usually they’ve already been working on the next one by the time the current one is realised. There was already a team working on Windows 8 before Windows 7 was available, for example.
Straightforward enough, even if their numbering leaves something in doubt.
But Windows 10 is different (and I wonder if this is the real reason they skipped 9 and went to a nice round number). After Windows 10, they aren’t going to bring out another completely new version – that’s what they say. Windows 10 will be the last new version they launch – the end of Windows.
It doesn’t mean that they think that’s it – they’ve got it perfect and it’ll never need to change.
Instead, they’re changing how it works. They’ll be bringing out regular smaller updates, instead of bringing out Windows 11, they’ll tweak version 10. They already do this – you probably have Windows updates turned on on your PC and every week or so (usually it’s on Tuesdays, afternoon in UK time) there are a bunch of updates.
At the moment most of these updates are little tweaks, fixing a bug about how something doesn’t work properly or changing something in the background so it’s less likely to crash or making something more secure.
But occasionally they make a change you can notice – for example in Windows 8 they add a windows button on the taskbar on the desktop screen and added a few extra bits on the start screen too.
And now, instead of bringing out a completely new version every few years, they’ll gradually tweak it through Windows updates.
It’s good and bad news. It’s good because you won’t have to buy another copy to get the new bits. And you’ll get them sooner, rather than having to wait until a complete new version is finished.
But on the other hand, it means you’ll get some changes whether you like them or not… and maybe at a time when you’d rather not have them because you’re busy with something.
You can’t turn this feature off on the home version of Windows 10 and I wouldn’t advise turning it off even if you could because there’ll be important security updates in with the others.
Of course it could be confusing, too, if something suddenly changes and you weren’t expecting it. But don’t worry – I’ll be keeping an eye on how Windows 10 changes over time and will mention any big changes that I think could be confusing. (Inner Circle members can always ask about anything that seems different in the Inner Circle Clubroom.)
A simple tip for mobile phones if you have poor signal
You probably know that sometimes if something goes wrong on your PC, the best thing to do is turn it off and turn it on again (or restart it).
Sometimes, that can help with mobile phone problems, too – and in a slightly surprising way.
If you ever find that your phone is telling you that there’s no signal it can find (or the signal is very weak, maybe just one bar), turning the phone completely off and turning it on again may just help.
What happens is this: If you’re in an area with two different signals, your phone tries to latch onto the stronger one. But sometimes it’ll get the weaker one first. It should then switch if that weaker one drops out – but sometimes they don’t.
It happens to me sometimes. At our house signal is actually not bad – and it should be good as we can see the mobile phone mast. But sometimes my phone latches on to the Isle of Man’s phone system instead. (Come to that, we can see the Isle of Man as well, and it looks a good deal prettier than the phone mast – especially at sunset.)
Then it might lose the signal to the Isle of Man system (because it is quite a way away, albeit across the sea, where signals travel better) and sometimes doesn’t switch to looking for a new signal instead of trying to keep on to the Isle of Man one. So I end up with basically no signal.
Turning it completely off, then on again makes it look again for scratch and nine times out of ten, it’ll then find the strongest signal in the area.
It doesn’t always help – sometimes the signal is actually poor in the area and it doesn’t matter which one it tries to latch onto. But there’s no harm in trying!